As the 2020 football season approaches with uncertainties from COVID-19, the Carolina Coquettes are preparing for a normal football season.
The Carolina Coquettes are a performing arts student organization affiliated with the Carolina Band. The dance team consists of about 20 dancers who perform during pre-games and at halftime of South Carolina football games. The coquettes also perform at university-sponsored community events in Columbia. Most recently, the coquettes performed with a section of the Carolina Band at Carolina Kickoff, the freshman welcoming event on campus.
Senior social media coordinator Elizabeth Monico said that the team is practicing for a normal season and remaining optimistic.
“We’ve talked about it a lot on our team, it can be discouraging to feel like what are we really working towards if we don’t know if we’re going to have football or we don’t know how the rest of the year is going to go, but I know for myself and the other girls we’ve just been talking about really trying to stay self-motivated and we’re trying to pretty much carry on as normally as we can,” Monico said.
Due to COVID-19, the coquettes have gone through numerous logistical changes as they have been preparing for the season. Over the summer, the coquettes hosted virtual tryouts through YouTube videos & a panel of three outsider judges. After tryouts, four new members joined the Carolina Coquettes, all of which were sophomores.
In the beginning of August, the coquettes participated in their annual band camp but things were set up differently in order to keep dancers and coaches safe. All dancers were requested to get a COVID-19 test before arriving at camp and before each practice, they were required to get their temperature taken as well as filling out a health and safety form.
At previous camps, the team used to practice all together for a week and a half consisting of 12-hour practice days, but this year the times and groups of dancers were lessened.
“This past season, again because of the pandemic, we were split up so we only practiced for about an hour and 15 minutes every single day and we practiced as a split team so we’re normally a team of 20 but because of the split we practiced in teams of 10,” junior captain Isabel Bowen said.
They spent camp preparing for Carolina Kickoff as well as learning their routines for football season, ultimately practicing as if the season would go on like normal.
Senior captain Alexis Sunderlage said that "navigating through the uncertainty of everything" has been her biggest struggle while practicing and going to school during the pandemic. Protocols of whether the coquettes will be performing in the stands, on the field or during potential pep rallies have not been announced yet.
“The one thing I knew coming into this year that would be certain would be that we would still find a way to dance together, we would still find a way to be friends whether that was, you know, in-person, outside, virtually over zoom. I know we’ve talked about doing dance choreography sessions over zoom in the future,” Sunderlage said.
A key value of the Carolina coquettes is their team community and positive moral. They are looking to make the most of whatever changes are implemented to the 2020 football season while continuing to dance and finding ways to grow closer as a team.